How to Contribute to Your MBA Study Group

Jumping in

A student shared recently that he is having a hard time contributing to his first year MBA study group. “The Americans never seem to stop talking,” he said. In response, we discussed four things that can help.

  1. Understand silence. People perceive silence differently around the world. For example, Japanese often use silence to demonstrate careful consideration of conversation points. Most Americans, however, are not comfortable with silence, and will “jump in” to begin speaking as soon as the other person stops.
  2. Practice “jumping in.” Knowing that Americans are uncomfortable with silence, get ready to speak as soon as your colleague stops. Begin making your point immediately. Most Americans will not interrupt, and will yield the floor if they start speaking at the same time as another person. You will hear things like, “Sorry, please go ahead.” Say thank you and make your contribution.
  3. Send thoughts before meetings. While you practice jumping in, you can set yourself up to contribute. Send brief emails to the team before your meetings with points you would like to cover. People will ask if the points are not coming up naturally in the flow of the meeting.
  4. Share thoughts after the meetings. You can also follow-up with thoughts after the meeting by emailing the group or by talking to someone one-on-one. Americans are typically good at sharing credit. If you come up with a brilliant idea, they will most likely tell the team and make sure people know it came from you.

I’ve love to hear if this advice works for you. Please let me know in the comments.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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